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Baltimore to begin issuing $125 'Don't Block the Box' fines starting Monday

The city wants traffic lights to be synched before a new rule that tickets drivers who "block the box" by blocking intersections is enforced. (Lloyd Fox & Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

Drivers who block downtown Baltimore intersections with their cars on Monday will risk receiving the first $125 fines for what’s commonly known as “blocking the box.”

Under a new city law, police and traffic enforcement officers have the authority to begin issuing tickets Monday for the violation, which exacerbates traffic jams, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

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Police and traffic enforcement officers are beginning to give warnings to drivers who block intersections in downtown Baltimore this week — and will begin issuing $125 fines for “blocking the box,” as it’s known, beginning Oct. 15, the Department of Transportation said.

It’s unclear which particular intersections will be targeted by authorities. The law applies citywide, although the issue is largely a complaint among drivers and pedestrians downtown, where traffic packs onto Pratt, Lombard, Baltimore, Charles, Light and Calvert streets as people commute to and from work.

The “Don’t Block the Box” fine is a result of legislation sponsored by City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young in June.

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Young delayed a push by the city transportation department in April to begin enforcing state law that calls for a $90 fine, plus a point on the driver’s license, after raising concerns that the traffic lights were not synchronized correctly and were partly to blame.

His legislation, which he said replaced an unenforced $250 city fine, made the offense within city limits a $125 fine, without putting points on a driver’s license.

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